As a kid in Hawaii, back around 1965/66, friend of the family had the 1st Meyers Manx dune buggy in the state of Hawaii. A beautiful candy apple red metallic Meyers Manx with white canvas top with side curtains. Had a stereo in it as well as a small black and white TV. White leather seats with the interior panels. On the back, a parachute, on the dash, a plaque certifying that this Meyers Manx had been driven on the Bonneville Salt Flats. I don’t remember how fast the six cylinder Porsche engine had propelled it across the salts. I do know, from the moment I saw that Manx I wanted one. I had read that they were a kit, I wanted to build one. I was 11 years old, little did I know, it would be many years before I would own my Manx.
In 1973, San Jose, Ca. had friends that were into bugs, I was into 55 – 57 Chevys, Corvettes and muscle cars and still wanted to build my own Meyers Manx dune buggy. Helped friends wrench on their bugs but, mostly I watched and tried to learn. This was when I first met the singing duo, VW mechanics and, engine builders, the William Brothers.
25 or so years ago, about the same time I bought a beat up 1968 Meyers Manx dune buggy, I became reacquainted with Dave and Sharon at Peninsula Auto in Campbell, Ca. Of course, only Dave is one of the original Williams Brothers that I knew back in the ’70’s.
I am basically an old hot rodder, mostly GM products, 55, 57 Chevys, GTOs, Olds, Chevelles, Corvettes and Corvairs. For some reason, I could not wrap my head around this VW stuff. Was constantly either at Peninsula or on the phone with someone at Peninsula, where the wealth of knowledge flowed like a river for me. They must have really felt sorry for me, as no matter how stupid a question or how many times I asked the same question, they never chased me off always offering sound advice or begging me to just bring it in, so they could see what the heck I was talking about.
3 or 4 years ago, I was invited to participate in a Meyers Manx Club run, The Brunch with Bruce run to Half Moon Bay. Maybe 25 club members left Foothill College, Drove Manx Buggies to Half Moon Bay, 18 or so buggies in a row, ending up an Eatery on the beach in Half Moon Bay. Before food was brought to the tables, Bruce walked around shaking hands and introducing himself. Thanked us all for coming and for the great time he and Winnie were having.
When he got to our table, I reached out to shake his hand and thanked him for coming all the way up from Valley Center. He looked at me as if he knew me. Though, over the years I had spoken with both Bruce and Winnie over the phone, for advice, buying small parts and, asking about the history of the Manx, until then, I had never met Bruce nor Winnie in person.
Out of the hundreds of people he speaks with over the telephone , Bruce remembered me. Not one of those, oh yeah, how you doing, remembered me, he really remembered me. Asked me if I had finally installed that new dash I had bought from him or at least installed the new beam I had bought from Peninsula. We had a short conversation and he joked with me about how long it was taking me to get my Manx on the road. Was as if I had run into an old friend I had not seen in years. After brunch, we all wandered into the parking lot for pictures and door prizes. Some how I ended up in the middle of all of this. Meant I was spending time talking with Bruce. We continued the conversation we had started inside. After an hour or so, the group broke up, people from all over Northern California, Nevada, Oregon and, Washington. Most had to get home.
Goodbyes were said and I was about to leave when, I was lucky enough to be asked by Bruce and Maurice Liange (Maurice had organized the run) to tag along with them as they headed off to a winery owned by a friend of Maurice. Once there, I was sitting with 5 or 6 other club members in a private setting with Bruce Meyers and his lovely wife Winnie.
We were there for maybe 3 hours as Bruce and Winnie told stories about their travels, how Bruce created the 1st Meyers Manx Buggy, funny stories about Bruce’s childhood. Bruce and Winnie encouraged others in the group to share their tales as well. At one point, it was just Bruce and I, sitting alone.
I asked him if he had considered building another Meyers Manx Buggy. He told me it was expensive to tool up, he was retired and enjoyed traveling, meeting club members and was redoing his house, and that he did not have much time for a new buggy. But he did have an idea he carried around in his head, about the new buggy he would build. That when he and Winnie were in Europe, hardly any of them ever took their Manx Buggies off the road. Most use em as sports cars. Since that visit, he had a vision of a street version of the original off road Meyers Manx, something strictly for the street. Strictly Street. I thought that was a great idea. I was extremely interested and told Bruce that if he was going to build a new kit, how I had wanted to build one since the 60’s. That when he built the limited edition signature series, I had money together but a personal financial set back, forced me to spend that money. When the Manxter came out, I was going to get a cashiers’ check on Saturday, to send out, but on Tuesday, my now ex, told me she wanted a divorce. BUT … this time, if he makes a new kit, I am going to do whatever it takes to buy a kit. He laughed and told me with that kind of luck, maybe he should move to another spot.
A few months later, I get a phone call. It was Winnie on the other end of the phone. She tells me that she and Bruce had been talking about it and decided to call people who had expressed an interest in a new kit, sort of a survey to see how serious people might be. I asked her, where do I send my deposit. In the background, Bruce asks her, is that Wayne? Winnie tells me, Bruce is going to make an updated version of the original style Manx. Wider rear fenders, opening hood and a few other tricks, while still maintaining the original look. Would I be interested? Again, I asked, where do I send my deposit? Winnie tells me, Wayne you may want to hold off, Bruce is coming up with something special that he thinks you are going to be interested in. We are not taking deposits, not yet. We will call you back.
I think, August of 2009, Winnie calls back to say, we are going to build the new version of the original Manx. We are taking a 100 percent refundable deposit. Winnie tells me, Bruce has a surprise for you. In the background, Bruce is telling Winnie to ask me if I am still interested in the strictly street version, that it will take a bit longer for him to get it ready as he having issues with the way the windshield is fitting BUT, if I am willing to wait, he wants to build that kit. I want the strictly street and tell Winnie I am willing to wait.
Over next few months, I get telephone calls off and on from Winnie, usually with Bruce in the background describing the progress and problems Bruce has been encountering. One phone call, Winnie told me, Wayne, it may be a few months before Bruce gets this all figured out or he may decide it is not worth the hassle and just toss the whole thing. Bruce picked up the extension, says to me, listen Kiddo, I am having a terrible time with the windshield and the cowling. The weight of the windshield is crushing the cowling. I will figure it out. I want it to be right. It’s going to take a while. Winnie asks if I want to transfer my deposit to a Kick-Out or hold off and wait? I tell her I will wait. Bruce says all right Kiddo … I will keep plugging away.
Three days later, Winnie calls. Asks, if I am sure I want the other version of the Kick-Out. I tell Winnie, yes, I will wait. She tells Bruce, he will wait. Bruce tells her all right … Tell the Kid I am going to build his car for him. March 16, 2009 my deposit was officially down on the 1st Meyers Manx Kick-Out SS.
A bit later, Bruce and Winnie called me to ask me to pick a color. I considered Royal Blue Metallic but wanted something a bit more elegant and decided upon Gun Metal Grey Metallic. Winnie and Bruce both questioned that choice. Two or three weeks later when it was delivered to their property, by the company making the bodies for them Winnie called me. Wayne they are unloading your SS body off the truck right now. You should see this in the sun, this is beautiful, how did you come up with the idea of that color? Bruce and I thought you were crazy picking that color. Just wanted to call you, let you know your kit is here and it is beautiful.
I picked up a 1970 Baja Bug as a donor. Stripped it off the pan. Pan went south to a good friend of Bruce’s with my friend Tom Baker. Off to Rick Boston. I had contacted Rick, he agreed to shorten Tom’s pan and my pan. Earlier, I had spoke with Dave and Blue at Peninsula. They both agreed that Blue could shorten the pan for me. Was not something they normally do but, for me, if I could not find anyone else to do it, they would do it. Rick Boston had jigs, he was a few miles from Bruce’s home and shop and he shortened maybe 50 pans a year. Dave and Blue both suggested, if Tom was already going that way (Tom was picking up his Traditional Kick-Out from Winnie and Bruce) and was willing to take my pan along with his … was a great idea.
Rick shortened the pan, replaced rusty floor pan. Bruce called me, asked, Wayne being as your pan is at Rick’s and we have your SS down here, would you mind if we put the SS on the pan, mock it up so it looks as if it runs. We would like to use it for our website, take it to a few shows, would that be okay. Bruce will build as much of the kit as he can. Borrow wheels, trans, engine, etc from friends. I agreed that would be a good idea. Bruce mocked up the SS and it made a few trips to various shows around Southern California.
On July 24, 2011 at 9:30 in the morning, Winnie and Bruce personally delivered the SS to my driveway minus all the parts they had borrowed for the mock up. They have a really cool rack that fits inside the bed of their crew cab Dodge 2500 pick up truck. With the tailgate off the truck, the rack sticks out the end of the truck about the same distance as an open tailgate laying flat. Using stock VW wheels on a Meyers Manx Dune Buggy, push the Manx up the ramps , the rack is a set of tracks on either side of the bed, tires ride in these tracks, front tires go up and over the wheel wells and roll up to stops just before the bumper on the Manx touches the front of the truck bed. The way the rack is set up, this locks the Manx in place, front wheels between the front of the bed and the wheel wells. For safety they also strap the rear down. I want one of those racks !!! Bruce designed and built that rack. Simple and ingenious.
Did I mention that when Bruce drove up to my house in San Jose from Valley Center (just shy of San Diego) with the SS kit, it was 4 months and a day after his 84th birthday. Along with 199 other people I was invited to his 85th Birthday Bash at his home. I believe 188 showed up. My good friend Rick Cross left his Manx at home and offered to use his truck and trailer to tow my SS to Bruce and Winnie’s. Once there, it was the who’s who of off road racing, along with some people who helped put Neil Armstrong on the moon. Bruce’s friends are wide and far. I was meeting people I had read about in history books. Racecar drivers, scientists, doctors, lawyers, car dealers, Bruce’s paperboy, friends, and former employees that built the 1st commercially produced Meyers Manx Dune Buggies in the 60’s. There also were many excellent examples of many of the different years of Meyers Manx Buggies that Bruce and Company had produced. I even got to drive Old Red, the 1st Manx Bruce ever made (The Manx that beat the motor cycles in the Mexican 1000) from Bruce’s shop to the parking area. Battery was dead, it would not start, we were pushing it when Tim, Bruce’s son, told me to jump in and drive while they pushed. So maybe I just steered. Bruce called it driving. He’s the authority. With his words as proof, I drove Old Red. Ha Ha. Later that day, Bruce and Winnie surprised me by picking my SS as the Best Buggy at Bruce’s 85th Birthday Bash.
I got ahead of myself. Before the trip to Bruce’s Birthday Bash, back here at home, I had been slowly plugging away … built up the pan. Many trips to Peninsula for parts and advice. Everyone at Peninsula bent over backwards to make sure that I was able to get the parts I needed and were the best they had to offer. I put a rebuilt adjustable beam on the front. Rick Boston had rebuilt the rear suspension. I put disc brakes on all four corners. New steering box, master cylinder, everything that could be unbolted was replaced with new components. Peninsula made me a great deal on a rebuilt freeway flier transaxle.
I dropped off a 1915cc long block I had bought from a guy on craigslist. I wanted Dave to check it out before I built it up. Meanwhile, Alejandro, another Peninsula customer, had stumbled into a real Dyno Soar engine, a bored and stroked 2332cc engine. He wanted to sell it. He asked me if I was interested. It was way out of my price range. A month or so later, Dave tells me, Alejandro found something he wants. He has dropped the price on the Dyno Soar engine and he needs the money by this weekend. Two days later I told Dave I would buy it. Dave laughed, said he had already paid Alejandro, that he knew I was going to buy it a month ago when Alejandro asked me if I knew anyone that wanted to buy it.
Blue, Mike, Nick and Mike at Peninsula, as a team went through the engine making sure all was the way it was supposed to be. While it was apart an expert on Dyno Soar parts and engines, at Dave’s invite, came by Peninsula and authenticated the engine as being a real Dyno Soar. I was having health issues and towed the SS to Peninsula. Mike installed the engine for me. I towed it home and finished up my wiring harness.
My friend Mike Moreci rebuilt the original Webers that came with the engine and helped me set em up. Mike and I started the engine on my driveway and broke in the camshaft. Next day I snuck it around the block. Sure does run sweet and with the Meyers Manx Side Winder Exhaust, my neighbors tell me, it sounds more like a powerful Italian Sports Car than a VW. Guess the guys at Peninsula know a thing or two about engines, even Dyno Soars.
In the dash, I managed to get a tach, speedometer, oil temp, volt meter, fuel and oil pressure gauge in place. Took me a while to figure out how to space em and have it look the way I wanted it to. There is no speedometer cable. Instead, I used a GPS unit to signal the electronic speedometer. All the gauges are VDO purchased at Peninsula.
I shortened the steering column, moving the steering wheel closer to the dash. I cut part of the pan and modified the seats to set lower. Made custom brackets for the shoulder seat belts and polished by hand most of the stainless steel to look like chrome. Starting with 36 grit sandpaper, removed the seams on the stainless steel tubing used on the front and rear bumpers, and worked my way up to polish.
I managed to fit an oil cooler above the starter motor and passenger side of the transaxle with an electric fan. Modified an EMPI oil filter bracket and instead of the oil filter being mounted off the driver’s rear of the engine, I have the oil filter mounted on the front passenger side of the engine. No reason other than I thought it looked better there than hanging off the rear.
The disc brake rotors are Chevrolet patterned and the wheels are early 70’s True Spokes.
As with all custom-built cars, there are hundreds of little one off things that no one notices and things that I wish I had done better.
Because I keep coming up with bigger and better ideas, (my opinion LOL) and finding ways to improve on what I have done, my Meyers Manx Kick-Out SS will probably never be truly finished.
Currently, it is the only running, driving, registered, and insured Meyers Manx Kick-Out SS in the world. Considering that 98% of it was built in my garage or on the driveway, I got pretty lucky and came out with a decent looking buggy. Oh, the SS, does stand for Strictly Street.
I thank Bruce and Winnie Meyers; The Good People at Peninsula Automotive; My friends Tom Baker, Rick Cross, Mike Moreci, my neighbors and friends Bill and Carmen and my Son Skylyn for all the support, advice and for keeping me on track when I was heading in the wrong direction. Dave thanks for putting up with me for all these 35 some odd years.
I type two words a minute. I started this around 8 p.m. It’s 2:45 a.m. I am going to bed.
Thank you for sharing a wonderful story Wayne…I enjoyed reading every word.